The Gift of Love

As we explore this final week of Advent, we explore the vast, powerful and varied meanings of the word – LOVE. I want us to visual us standing inside a closet with the door closed, no light is on. No light is on in the house either. How dark and lonely is it in your closet? That dark can’t compare to the darkness of the nothing that was before creation. But what does creation have to do with love…everything.

God created everything that was…that is…that will be. And his purpose was love. Think about how you feel when you make something for someone as a gift. Now take that feeling and expound it exponentially…then you might begin to understand why God creates things for us. God wants a close relationship with us. It’s why He created Eden, so he could walk in and with all of His creation, enjoying the love they shared together. But man messed it up and here we are today still trying to find our way back to that love. And patiently God waits for us to come…

And knowing our inability to fully find our way back to Him, His love never failed and He gave us an unbelievable gift…a baby…Himself in human form, to show us again that amazing Love.

As we come to the close of the Advent season we begin to fully understand the power of the four gifts of Advent and how these gifts link out past, our present and our future together. The gift of Hope, the gift of Peace, the gift of Joy and now the gift of Love, all come together to help us celebrate Christ’s coming…in the past, here with us today…and in the future when all things will be made new as they should be.

Just as a parent loves their child, so God loves us as we are his children. He loved us first…and loves us more. That is the power of His Love.

We close out Advent with the lighting of the white candle on Christmas Eve, Christ’s candle. Let us never forget the all consuming LOVE God the Father and God the Son have for each of us.

Even though we may not fully understand the completeness of this love, it is as real as the air you are breathing. Breathe it in, embrace it and share it with others who need to breathe it in.

May you all have a very blessed Christmas. And remember in all things to be kind.

Should Encouragement Sound Hard?

Good morning friends. I wanted to share my “slap in the face” from my devotion this morning with Oswald Chambers. As the end of the year gets closer, and the holidays are within touching distance, we run around being “do-gooders” in the name off sacrifice for others. We sacrifice out time, our talents, our money with the hope of making our Lord pleased with us and of course helping our fellow man. We don’t outwardly look at it like that but I think sometimes that thought can niggle at us. I think we forget what true sacrifice is and I boil it down to this analogy – If the task you are doing to help fellow man may seem to others like a sacrifice or burden but to you it is a chance to show love and support, then your heart is in step with Christ. If the task you are doing to help fellow man feels like a sacrifice or burden then your heart is not in it, so stop. While it may be needed, its long term effects will not last. And it is needed to last in some form of caring.

We forget what true sacrifice is…

How dare we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! We are saved from hell and total destruction, and then we talk about making sacrifices! Oswald Chambers

That was a hard statement to read this morning. And it made me think about all the programs we are getting setup for the holidays to help the needy, to help their physical needs; the food baskets, the “Share the Warmth” clothing drive. But are we doing enough to help their spiritual needs, their emotional needs. I can’t answer that question. Its different for each person. Am I, myself, skimming off the top or digging deep.

The missionaries around the world are truly sacrificing for Jesus. Remember the big news stories about the missionaries in Haiti getting captured and now its old news…but you know what, they are STILL captured and imprisoned. As they are in Afghanistan and other third world countries. But what can we do about that? Pray! If every person in the world would pray for them, not just once, but every time you do something for others, say a true heartfelt prayer for them. The power of hell has no power over the love of God and His people who sincerely believe in Him.

Taking the time to stop – be still – pray…is a sacrifice we can all do. It doesn’t come from our financial resources or our talents, it comes from our time and our heart. True sacrifices come from our heart.

So as you approach the holiday season, look at things a little more differently. Look at the value of true connection to others needs and always surround it with love from your heart. Never forget to pray for others and always be kind.

Always Pray in Kindness

Power of Encouragement

Sometimes it is the tiniest thing we do, and that is usually done unconsciously, that can bring about the biggest smile from the encouragement it gave. I think it is so important to lift others up especially in today’s chaos. Coming home today, I got tickled with the radio’s encouragement as it was talking about the encouragement you got from flossing or not flossing. What?!?  Even now I can not put that together but as long as it got someone’s attention and they were encouraged, then it was worth it. Even the USDA had a cartoon campaign by building a car out of veggies to encourage kids to eat better. Encouragement can come in many different forms.

Eating a car may appeal to boys…

While I am from the south and love my veggies, I prefer the encouragement I get from Scripture and friends and then I just pass that encouragement on to other friends and occasionally here at my blog. According to google, the most encouraging verse in the bible is Psalm 46:1 –

I can see that as being a powerful encouraging verse but I am sure we all have a favorite that speaks just to us. Mine is in Proverbs – well one of the many – 

Personally, I need someone to direct my path because I am easily distracted by something like a butterfly and then I will fall in a hole in the ground that I didn’t see. But it is the love of His guiding hand, the gentleness of His whisper and the power of His truth that helps us cling safely to every word of His “training manual” and that is what keeps us encouraged. When we share it with each other or with those who don’t know His words, that is when we again remember just how powerful His words of encouragement are and we can again feel His peace surrounding us.

So, I am just passing on the encouragement I get from reading His words. The more we are encouraged, the more we can encourage others and the more we encourage others, well it just makes a ripple effect that can spread near and far…like tossing a pebble in a pond.

Think about how small the initial ripple of a wave is when first made that can grow into a enormous tidal wave. May we all be ripple makers of encouragement for each other and maybe this will make it a happier world. And as you encourage, remember the tiniest spark of kindness can have a bursting affect of sunshine, so always be kind.

Encouragement from Isaiah

Good evening. I write this encouragement as I dance in my chair to an oldie but goodie CD from way back in 2000. What were you doing 20 years ago? A lot to remember and be thankful for. This CD, America’s Newest and Favorite Praise and Worship songs, has great songs like “Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord” and a personal favorite “Ancient of Days”.  The song Ancient of Days goes along with today’s reminder of Isaiah’s word from Chapter 45, actually God’s words to Isaiah.  

The book of Isaiah is the first writing of the prophets and Isaiah is considered the greatest of the prophets. While he was loved at first, his message of gloom and doom did not sir well with the Israelites. None of us like to be called out for our wrongdoings. While the first half of the book is filled with God’s anger for all their sins, He always finishes with hope for those who chose to follow His ways. Chapters 40-66 are Isaiah teaching of hope for the future, their restoration and God’s continued promises. Chapter 45 is a favorite of mine as God shows His continued love for His people while reminding them who He was – “I am God, there is no other”. Enjoy the pictures I found with the scripture quotes from Chapter 45 as God explains who He is and how He has always loved us.

Isaiah 45 5
He is the one and only.
isaiah 45 7
He is the one who created all of this for His delight in watching us enjoy the beauty of His creation.
Isaiah-45-12
Have you been totally away from the city lights to see the magnificent beauty of the star filled sky…each star has a given name.
Isaiah 45 18
Created not in vain, He is the Lord, there is none else.
Since I am listening to music, I leave you with a song “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”. If you choose to listen, the words are also on the screen so you can read as well as listen to the song and really get an understanding just how much He loves you.
Have a safe and peaceful evening.

Beauty, Power and Encouragement, A New Day

Rising Above the Horizon
Photo courtesy Irene Tron, Heaven’s Sunshine

The first light of day breaks through darkness and lets shine forth the beauty of a new day. The last light of day brings rest and fulfilled hope for yet the new day tomorrow.

Habakkuk reminds us of God’s likeness to the new day in that “His splendor is like the sunrise; rays flash from His hand, where is power is hidden.”

Tomorrow when you see the sun climb up in the sky, watching the rays as they filter through the clouds,  feel His love, His power and see the beauty of a new day that He created for you to enjoy.

roman 15 13

As this joy, peace and love overflow in you, allow it to also overflow from you to others who need to feel this peace. And always be Kind.

phil 4 7